Zero no Tsukaima:Volume6 Chapter5
Chapter Five: Flame of Twenty Years Ago
D’Angleterre (Angle Province)
Located in the southwest area facing the sea, these settlements were said to be built a few centuries ago by immigrants from Albion. This area had always been troublesome for the kings of Tristain over the generations.
This was because there was a culture of independence here; whenever something happened, they would oppose the central government.
So around a hundred years ago, when a religious leader from the religious country Romalia started an event to practice their religion, the highly motivated people in this region all rushed to join in this event. Even though this displeased the king and raised his suspicions… Still the people in this region continued to maintain the unique carefree style, and willingly accepted the terms suggested, so there wasn’t any vigorous suppression.
In other words, the people in D’Angleterre were slick and pleased both sides.
Twenty years ago, they forced the Tristain government to recognize their own independent government, and set up a temple for a new religion.
Because of that, they became an eyesore to the Romalian government. In the end, Tristain was pressured to send an army to suppress them… That was what was recorded regarding the incident then.
That day, twenty years ago, Agnes was still only three years old. Her memories about then are fragmented, yet still very fresh and strong.
The three-year-old Agnes was originally collecting seashells on the seashore.
Then she found something more beautiful than the pretty seashells sculptured by the waves. It was… A ring with a big ruby on it, beautiful like a fire-- It was sparkling on the finger of a young female that had been washed ashore.
The three-year-old Agnes felt afraid, as she stretched out her hand to touch that ruby ring. At that instant, the female opened her eyes and she asked Agnes in a trembling voice.
“…This place is?”
After Agnes replied, the young female appeared satisfied, and nodded.
After that, Agnes ran to inform the adults that she had found someone who had been washed ashore. Even though that female was on the brink of death, under the care of the villagers she managed to pull through.
She called herself Vittoria. Even though she was a noble, as she was a member of the new religion, she was pursued by Romalia but she escaped.
A Tristain squad came to this place a month later.
They burned the village indiscriminately.
Fathers, mothers… The home she was born and grew up in… All swallowed by flames in an instant.
The young Agnes kept running amidst the flames, and finally escaped into the house Vittoria was hiding in.
Vittoria hid Agnes under a blanket. Not long after, a group of men rushed into the room.
“The Romalian woman is here!”
The rough male shout made Agnes very scared.
Following that, she heard a voice chanting a spell.
The next moment, Vittoria, who let Agnes hide on the bed, was surrounded by flames. As Agnes’ consciousness gradually faded away, she saw someone who, despite being burnt by scorching flames, was casting water magic on Agnes to increase her resistance to fire-- It was Vittoria.
Agnes’s memories ended there temporarily. The next scene that was reflected in her eyes was--
A man’s neck.
An ugly neck that had very obvious burn marks.
Agnes was being carried piggyback by that man. Seeing the wand in his hand, Agnes understood that he was a mage. In other words, she understood that this was the man that used Fire magic to burn her village into ashes.
Agnes’s consciousness began fading once more… When she woke up, she realized she was lying by the shore, wrapped in a blanket. The village kept on burning in the massive flames. Agnes stared at the wavering flames without shifting her eyes.
She was the only survivor.
From that day, over twenty years had passed.
Yet whenever she closed her eyes, she would imagine those massive flames.
Those massive flames that had burned her family and savior.
At the other end of those flames, a man’s back would appear.
After growing up, Agnes learned that incident was part of Romalia’s “New Religion Hunt”. The trigger for that incident was protection of Vittoria in the village who escaped from Romalia. Furthermore, she investigated and found out that it was conducted with the excuse of “eradicating a contagious disease”.
Since there was a change in religion in Romalia, the New Religion Hunt came to a halt as well. However, the wound in Agnes’s heart had not healed.
Even though she had put an end to Richmon--the man who accepted bribes from Romalia and made the plans for that incident-- with her own hands, her revenge was still incomplete. The flames of vengeance in Agnes’s heart would not extinguish until all the people who had burned D’Angleterre to ashes were eradicated.
The information bank for the Royal Army was situated at one corner of the eastern part of the Tristain Palace.
Even among the Royal Army, only personnel at high positions were allowed to enter this place. In fact, Agnes could be said to have worked hard to prove herself in order to earn the right to enter places like this.
The Musketeer Corps that Agnes led was one of the few defending squads that would not participate in this battle of conquest against Albion, even though they were imperial guards. In a war like this where the entire country’s strength is immersed, by right they should have been participating in the battle as well… But the most crucial reason was that the highest commanding officer for the upcoming battle, de Poitiers, had no pleasant feelings towards them.
Even though the scale of the battle would be small, the position of leader of the imperial guards was equivalent to a general commanding a distant conquest, or even higher. So if the imposing and qualified Musketeer Corps participated in this battle, it was quite likely that de Poitiers' achievements would be taken away by them. So the General, who hoped to become marshal, naturally refused to let them participate in the battle. That is to say, all the contributions and achievements would be gathered by him, and he would not tolerate someone above him during military conference meetings.
Besides, Agnes was not even a mage. What can a mere commoner do? De Poitiers had always looked down upon Agnes and her squad.
Of course, the reasoning on the surface was an entirely different story. He put forth a reasonable justification that, “Regarding the Musketeer Corps of the imperial guards, they should naturally do their utmost to protect Her Highness.”
But to Agnes, this was instead a good chance.
Frankly speaking, she did not care about what happened to Albion.
With such a mindset, Agnes immersed herself in the information bank of the Royal Army, and after about two weeks, she finally found the document she was searching for. The following words were written on the cover of that document:
“Magical Research Experimental Group”
It was a small group of only around thirty people; it was the squad that destroyed Agnes’ village.
She flipped through several pages; all the members were nobles.
That guy too? There were names recorded in there that shocked her.
Agnes bit her lips hard, and carefully read through each page. To her dismay, quite a number of these members were already dead.
Reading though it, Agnes was so surprised that she widened her eyes… Immediately following that, her expression became distorted by hatred and displeasure.
This was because the page regarding the leader of the squad was ripped off. It was clear who did this… Yet there was no way to find out who was their leader now.
She was unable to find out about the most sinful man.
Agnes’s body began to tremble.
In the town of Rosais, which would require two days horse ride from the capital of Albion, Londinium, a group of dangerous looking men appeared.
It included a man with a big patch of burn scars on the side of his face… A squad led by Menvil. It was just a small squad with about ten people, but the pressuring aura they gave off was comparable to a large squad of heavily armed spearmen.
The leather coats they wore were filled with stains, showing what experienced mercenaries they were. Under the coat, each of them were probably holding onto their weapons. As to what their weapons were, it was really hard to guess.
The group came to a smelting stove at an air force factory near the countryside. It was a smelting stove charged with melting metal to make cannon balls, but now the technicians were all trying hard to come up with strategies. This was because the temperature of the stove could not be increased any further; lead was still okay, but its current low temperature couldn't melt other metals.
“There's not enough coal, and the wind is weak. What a headache… We must get a hundred cannon balls ready by the afternoon…”
The nagging chats of the technicians could be heard.
Right at that moment, opposite the direction Menvil’s squad was traveling in, a bunch of trolls appeared. Trolls were humanoids that resided in the northern highlands of Albion, and they could be as tall as five men.
Even though their numbers weren’t great, they possessed a strong desire for battle. War between humans was not their concern. However, they would be able to use clubs to beat their most hated humans into human paste as much as they want, so they participated in this war as well.
Indeed, they made for reliable comrades. Because of their huge size, they were very useful in a siege. Yet they were always acting arrogant and almighty no matter where they went, so human soldiers hated them very much. And they would always defy orders and act on their own, so no matter how strong of a force they were, there were a lot of commanding officers who were unable to handle them.
Speaking of which, for trolls like these to gather and move forward in a group of around twenty, it looked like a large forest sprinting ahead. The technicians and marines hurriedly ran to the sides, letting this group of trolls pass.
The trolls gave off a voice like a tsunami from their thick, rough throats, looking at the humans running and hiding at their feet. They opened their mouths wide, their breathing sounded like a gigantic bellows moving up and down. They were mocking all those small and helpless humans.
This group of trolls stopped in their tracks.
That was because a human stood in their path, the group led by Menvil. There is a human brave enough to stand in our path? The trolls found it hard to believe.
The trolls vibrated their throats like bellows and growled for some time.
“What is that bunch of useless things nagging about?”
Menvil asked, looking disgusted. Standing beside him, a man with piercing eyes spoke up to report to their leader.
“They are saying 'move aside'.”
Menvil ordered his subordinate who could understand Troll language,
“Tell them, this land belongs to humans.”
His subordinate said a few lines in Troll language. Once the sentence had left his mouth, the Trolls agitatedly raised their spiked hammers in their hands.
There was a piece of metal even larger than a cannonball at the tip of the spiked hammer, something so strong it could even smash a solid castle wall in one blow.
If hit directly by that thing, a human would stand no chance of survival.
“Hey, what did you say to them?” Menvil asked.
“Err… Buru, Shubu, Toru, Uuru… Oh shit, I made a mistake. This is the worst insult possible, I am sorry.”
“So, that's the reason.” Menvil replied.
One of the furious Trolls aimed at the group and sent his spiked hammer crashing down.
Menvil used his left hand to lift his coat and took out the weapon inside; it was a long, coarse metal rod. He used his right hand to hold the metal rod, waving it lightly.
And then he chanted a spell.
A bunch of flames flew off from the metal rod and wrapped around the Troll's right arm holding the spiked hammer.
In the blink of an eye, that flame melted the Troll’s arm together with the spiked hammer. The metal pieces that were heated red flew off in all directions, but the man beside Menvil carried out a spell-chant, and used Wind magic.
A small tornado engulfed the melted metal, and wrapped it onto the faces of the Trolls. The red metal scorched their skins and they gave off painful moans.
The fire emerging from the tip of the wand became even stronger.
Their surroundings became a sea of flames just like that.
The smell of burnt Trolls spread around.
Under the light from the flames, Menvil revealed a cruel smile. He stared straight at the Trolls that were rolling around in pain.
Several minutes later--
Menvil and gang stepped onto the carbonized Trolls and moved on.
“Oh my, what an unbearable stench.”
One of the group members complained.
“What are you talking about?” Menvil said.
“This sweet scent of a living thing burnt to the very end… Is something normal perfume cannot compare with… The best smell there can be.”
Stunned, the technicians shivered as they watched how the Trolls were burned. The Trolls’ bodies were mixed with melted metal pieces. Those were the spiked hammers that the Trolls had in their hands originally.
“Who are those people...? This is steel. To not even need a wind box or stove to melt them…”
On a destroyer not far from there, Wardes and Fouquet were standing on the deck, waiting impatiently for the arrival of the “goods”.
“It is fifteen minutes past the agreed time. Gee, for someone who cannot even follow time strictly, can they really initiate an operation as tight as a pinhole? This is an occupation assignment, a very troublesome job.”
“Menvil the 'White Flame,' is very well known among mercenaries. It is rumored that he is cruel, sly… and very powerful.”
“No matter, it is hard to have a good impression of someone who came late.”
As the two chatted about this, they saw Menvil and his men finally reaching them.
A ladder was let down from the destroyer’s deck.
Menvil and gang climbed up the ship with a burnt meat smell.
“You people, what did you burn before coming over?”
“Just around twenty Trolls.”
Menvil replied as if it were nothing. Hearing him say that, Fouquet’s face went pale.
Everyone gathered in the room specially prepared for military conferencing in order to discuss the details of their operation.
The main objective of this operation was to occupy the Academy of Magic.
Cromwell planned to take the students hostage and use them as bartering chips, so as to negotiate with the two countries that were allying to attack.
They would sneak past Tristain’s patrol lines and move straight into the Academy of Magic.
“Even though they're just a bunch of kids, it's still a nest of mages. Will these people be fine?”
Fouquet, who had used a huge golem to attack the Academy in the past, showed her unhappiness with this operation.
“Don’t worry, almost all the teachers are participating in the war; even the male students are gone. There should only be female students left there.” Wardes said.
“As the Viscount mentioned, that is what is meant to be a noble, what a bunch of troublesome fellows.”
Menvil said with a tone of self mockery.
“You were originally a noble as well?”
“Basically all mages are nobles right? Miss Mathilda.”
Hearing him call out her past noble name, Fouquet blushed.
“Oh, am I that famous?”
“Why did you give up your identity as a noble?”
“I have long forgotten the reason.” Fouquet replied unhappily.
Menvil smiled instead, and said,
“I remember very clearly.”
“Is that so…”
Fouquet put on an indifferent smile by the side of her mouth. The number of mages that had abandoned the title of noble and became commoners was not that few. Yet the ends of these people were basically all very similar. They might become criminals like Fouquet… Or become mercenaries like Menvil, anyway it was one or the other. And, most people would walk to the end of their lives regretting their decision.
As for Fouquet --even though she would definitely not admit it-- she had some unrealistic dreams from time to time as well. Like… If she were able to live on as a noble… Even though she knew very clearly that it was impossible. But sometimes she couldn’t help but recall… That youthful period where she didn't even know about the word “uneasiness.”
As for Menvil, he seemed to be the kind not fated with that kind of regret. It appeared as though he congratulated himself on his choice from the bottom of his heart.
“You seem to like yourself very much.”
Hearing Fouquet’s words, Menvil laughed.
“To me, my current job is the best I can ever have.”
“Because I can burn humans to my heart’s content.”
“Do you hate humans?”
“How can that be, of course I like them, precisely because I like them, I burn them. Don’t you get it? That smell, that smell created by my own flames… Only that smell can get me excited.”
Just like a slug wriggling on her spine, Fouquet felt disgusted from the bottom of her heart.
“I realized that when I was twenty. Back then I was still in a certain squad belonging to Tristain.”
The team members gathered here couldn’t help but look at each other.
Fouquet and Wardes kept quiet.
Menvil began talking about his past events.
It was twenty years ago.
I was a military officer that had just hit twenty years of age, and was set into a squad called the “Magical Research Experimental Group.” The leader of the squad was a man around the same age as me.
That small group was the first to be formed only with nobles… An experimental group formed only with mages. No, that was slightly different from a squad of magical guards, that was a group of combatants similar to idols. Viscount Wardes, since you were a leader there before, you should understand what I mean right? Even though we were riding flashy mystical beasts and causing envious uproar wherever we went… we could not even urinate outside, and it was even harder to perform some dirty tasks. Anyway, I won't investigate why you left that place.
As for us, the “Magical Research Experimental Group” was formed by a group of low-class nobles… Hmm, basically we were similar to a group that does all the odds and ends; we were ordered to take care of some things like catching thieves, investigating how attack magic affects the human body, and research on how much damage is done when using area magic in battle.
And in operations requiring the elimination of rioting gangs or suppression of nobles in rural areas and such, we were the fighting force that always got sent in first.
To those big shots, we should have been a very useful team.
Let me tell you, the leader of that team was very strong.
“Leader?” Fouquet asked.
“That’s right,” Menvil nodded.
He continued his story.
As I mentioned just now, speaking of that leader… Even though he was only slightly over twenty years old, he had a lot of guts.
He could look indifferent as he burned the enemy to death, after all. I was totally impressed by him back then.
But, it was that one particular operation that made me totally mesmerized by that leader.
At the western shores of Tristain, there was a lowdown area called D’Angleterre. It was a poor village with nothing at all. Besides picking up some oysters there, there was nothing of value; it was a lifeless and lonely village.
In the end we received orders, saying that there was a plague going on there, and that the situation had gotten out of control; so we were to burn and destroy the village. And this order came from rather higher up…
So we hurriedly set off to execute this order.
Our leader was the greatest.
After all, he did not go easy at all.
Whether it was a woman or a child, he eradicated them all without a care.
He manipulated a flame that was like a tornado, and in a moment, the village became a sea of flames.
Because it was at night, the ocean reflected the light from the fire, it was really beautiful.
The most notable thing was that village had no plague at all.
“Then why burn an entire village down?”
“Because of the 'New Religion Hunt'.”
“New Religion Hunt?”
“It was due to pressure from Romalia. That village hid a woman, a member of the New Religion, who had escaped from that country. And to make things worse, that whole area was covered with New Religion members. So if something like this were to happen again in the future, it would be problematic, and it was on the way, so might as well burn that whole village down and end things once and for all. Speaking of which, the plague was just an excuse.”
Wardes listened to this past event indifferently. Fouquet on the other hand stared at Menvil, not hiding the unhappiness in her heart at all.
“Okay, just like that, when the suppression mission at D’Angleterre was completed… I was already totally mesmerized by that kind of leader. When I realized that I really wanted to be just like him, I aimed at his back and waved my wand.”
“How incomprehensible; Why would someone attack a person he admired?”
“Actually I don't really understand it myself. Anyway, I probably just wanted to verify whether that person was indeed worthy to be someone I admire from the bottom of my heart. If he lost against me, then he was not that kind of person.”
“And, what happened then?”
Menvil gave off a smile with evil intent and pointed to the side of his face that had been burned out of shape.
“This was the result. That guy was really something, he actually took me down like it was nothing. So I escaped immediately. After all, I waved my wand and attacked the leader; of course I couldn't stay in the squad anymore.
“And then things became the way they are now. I originally thought that if I became a mercenary, one day I would be able to meet that leader. But things didn’t go as smoothly as I expected. I'm not sure if he was killed by someone, or if he retired… I haven't heard anything regarding that leader since the day I received this burn scar on my face. What a pity; I am so much stronger than I was back then. I can create a flame that is hotter than back then, hotter than anyone’s magic…”
Menvil laughed loudly. As if a certain nerve in his mind had snapped suddenly. He continued to laugh,
“Ahh, I really hope I can see that guy once more! I want to see him and thank him! I don't regret anything! Be it giving up my title as a noble or becoming a killer… I regret nothing! But I'm unable to thank that leader. This is the only thing that pains me! I want to see him, I really want to see him! This scar screams out like that every night!”
Menvil, as if mad, continued that insane laughter for quite some time.
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